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December 7: The year's most important story


In the news: 1941

The following story is a reminder that once upon a time — before Onondaga Lake became thoroughly polluted — its waters served many recreational purposes. There were hotels, private clubs and at least one large amusement park located on the shore of Onondaga Lake, which for much of the 19th and early 20th centuries was perhaps the area's most popular weekend and vacation destination.

Syracuse Herald-Journal, January 8
Hunters Club burns; two women flee
The Hunters Club, for many years an entertainment and resort center at Pleasant Beach on Onondaga Lake, burned early today.

Two occupants, Mrs. Augusta Windhausen, and her niece, Mrs. Genevieve Barry, escaped from the burning structure after grabbing a few articles of clothing.

Deputy Sheriffs Joseph Seeley and Justin King, patroling the vicinity, discovered the fire at about 2 a.m. and telephoned Solvay police. Patrolman Mathew Scanlon of the Solvay police department sounded the alarm and notified Fire Chief Edward F. Kurtz.

The Solvay volunteer fire department responded, but the blaze had gained too much headway for the firemen to save the building. The original Hunters Club, and a dining room, recently added, were destroyed.

Furniture, the day’s receipts and some other cash, totaling about $100, and the entire liquor stock were believed destroyed. Mrs. Windhausen was unable to estimate the total loss.

Cause of the fire was undetermined. Mrs. Windhausen and Mrs. Barry said they found the taproom filled with smoke. The blaze is believed to have started in the chimney of a fireplace.

Neither of the women had retired. Mathew Windhausen of 2807 West Genesee Street, and his son, Charles Windhausen, had left the club a few minutes before the fire was discovered.

Pontoons of a plane piloted here last week from Long Island by Matthew Windhausen III and an automobile were saved from the fire. Young Windhausen landed his plane on Onondaga Lake and replaced his pontoons with wheels before proceeding to Niagara Falls.

The club was the scene of a party for employes of the Whelan Drug Company last night.

No opposition from Democrats
In late January, Roscoe Bourlier and Stanley Duda were nominated by the Solvay Republican party as candidates for village trustees. Their election in March was certain because the Democrats did not mount any opposition.

Bourlier will succeed Third Ward trustee Frank Kinder, who is retiring after six years on the board. Duda, of 342 Belle Isle Road, is a leading bowler in the village and will succeed Anthony Weslowski, who is stepping down as village trustee in the Second Ward after serving for 10 years. Duda is associated with the Halcomb Steel Company.

Mayor John J. Degan and Solvay Police Justice Daniel F. Mathews were endorsed for re-election by the GOP committee. Raymond Leachtner will run again as candidate for trustee in the First Ward.

The Syracuse Municipal airport, then located in Amboy, just outside of Solvay, was the site of a demonstration intended to inspire young men to enlist in the Army Air Corps.

Army planes invade the airport
Syracuse Herald-American, May 25

Crowds at the Municipal Airport yesterday had a thrilling demonstration of what Army war planes can do, a demonstration of “dragging the field” at high speed, in which spectators could imagine the frightful toll of enemy planes machine gunning a terrain.

Scarcely 30 feet above the field, nine of the 10 Army pursuit ships flew at high speed across the field and circled back before taking off on their return to Mitchel Field, Long Island. One plane remained behind so that the nine planes could keep their formation in threes as they swept low over the field, their motors roaring and lacking only machine-gun fire to resemble and actual raid. The plane behind was in position for “mopping up” an enemy battle line as the threes roared over the field.

Sharp-nosed and brilliantly painted, the sleek and deadly planes made an impressive sight as they circled the city when they arrived from Mitchel Field shortly after noon. But this spectacle was nothing to that at the airport as the fast pursuit planes sped over and back several times, roaring down lower each time. The spectacle would have been terrifying had it not been merely a demonstration of aerial might and facility in maneuvers.

Each plane has two machine-guns in its hood, each gun synchronized to fire between the three blades of propeller as they revolve. Two machine-guns are in each wing and these six guns can give out fastest and mightiest outburst of death dealing bullets.

All sections of Syracuse had opportunity to see the planes as they flew over and circled the city about 12:15 p.m. They flew over Syracuse twice, once on their arrival and later on their departure as they took off on the return flight about 2 p.m.

The flight to Syracuse was part of the observance of Flying Cadet Day and part of the Army’s campaign for flying cadets.

Flying Cadet Day was yesterday as part of the campaign for the Air Corps. A motion picture, “I Wanted Wings,” was shown at a local theater and the recruiting districts unit was stationed outside the theater

McCarthy Block burns
A three-story building at the corner of Milton and Caroline Avenues on June 3 was destroyed by fire. Trapped in a second-floor apartment was James McCarthy, 62, who was found dead at 3:30 a.m. Making the discovery were firemen George Kelly and Norman James after the flames were brought under control. McCarthy had suffocated in the dense smoke.

The discovery came as a surprise because firemen had been told the building, known as the McCarthy Block, was unoccupied. The question had come up earlier in the evening when firemen were called to put out a fire in a shed attached to the building. At that time James McCarthy was seen on the street.

Whether that fire touched off the one that then destroyed the main bulding was unknown at the time. Both fires, no doubt, were considered suspicious in origin.

Adding to the mystery was the action of the victim’s nephew, Thomas McCarthy, who hours after the fire climbed a ladder, attached a rope to the wall and tried to pull it down. At the same time the wall buckled on its own. Firemen said McCarthy was lucky to avoid injury when the wall crumbled and crashed to the ground, along with McCarthy and his ladder.

The building was owned by the victim’s brother, Patrick V. McCarthy, who also listed it as his home address, but actually resided elsewhere. Firemen believed the only tenant of the building was a street-level barbershop which was closed at the time of the fire.

The village of Solvay and the McCarthys were in a legal battle over the property. Adrian Grobsmith, a member of the village board, told reporters, “The village wanted to foreclose for non-payment of taxes.” He said the burned-out building and other buildings on the property would be taken over and torn down.

Students become fire fighters
A June 10 fire caused $30,000 damage in the 35-room home of Maxwell Brace on Piercefield Drive, Solvay. While waiting for firemen to arrive, members of the family, its servants, neighbors and several students on their way home from school went into the house to rescue its contents.

They were credited with saving thousands of dollars worth of Oriental rugs, furniture, silver, pictures and other valuable items. They also were very lucky that no one was injured. When firemen arrived they had to put on gas masks in order to work upstairs.

The fire apparently spread from one which had been started that morning in the library fireplace. It was discovered about 2:30 p.m. while members of the family and their two house guests were having lunch. The fire was largely confined to the third floor. It was water cascading down from the third floor that caused considerable damage to the lower floors.

The house is a three-story brick and frame structure on a 12-acre estate, making it one of the most unusual properties in the village.

First concert by Junior Tyrol Band
The first concert by the newly organized Solvay Junior Tyrol Band was presented June 28 at the Tyrol Club at 114 Freeman Avenue, Solvay. Members of the band included Norman Nicolini, Alfred Chemotti, William Capella, Edwin Tarolli, Bert Armani, John Pauli, Fred Marascalchi, Henry Capella, Minnie Artini, Renat Nicolini, John Capella, Edward Albrigo, Louis Pellizzari, Dominick Passardi, Alvin Tarolli, Henry Antonini.

Pottery project on Milton Avenue
Syracuse Herald-Journal, October 17

The new cinder block building in Milton Avenue, Solvay, which is to house the enlarged NYA (National Youth Administration) pottery project, is nearing completion and will be ready for occupancy around November 1, according to an announcement from S. J. Ciciarelli, area director.

The new shop is one story high, 165 by 65 feet, and is equipped with a complete kiln, having a capacity of 225 dozen dishes a day. The land was furnished by the village of Solvay, which is to retain title. The town of Geddes supplied half of the material used in construction.

Forty-three young people are being trained in the present NYA pottery shop, a short distance from the one under construction. The training courses are conducted by foremen from plants of the Onondaga Pottery and the Iroquois China Company.

The NYA project is the only one of its kind in New York State. It will produce dishes for use in NYSA resident centers.

Their turkey dinner was delayed
Thanksgiving Day meals were interrupted for Solvay volunteer firemen summoned to battle a marsh fire that smoldered through several acres of swampy Onondaga Lake shoreline near what used to be known as Rockaway Beach. The fire apparatus could not get through the marshy terrain and firemen used old brooms to contain the fire, which died before it spread into nearby woods.

People

Nancy Ribak, salutatorian of the January graduating class at Solvay High School, was crowned queen at the annual senior class dance on January 20. Basketball team captain Leland Mitchell was her escort. Crown bearer Mildred Welch was escorted by Ralph Lanceros.

Syracuse Herald-Journal, May 8
Their number would soon grow
They were boyhood pals and they’ve been stationed at the same Marine Corps base for months — but neither even knew the other was a Marine until they met by accident yesterday — back in Solvay, their hometown.

“Well, blow me down,” was the greeting exchanged by Corporal Victor T. Tagliaferri of 512 Second Street and Private First Class Warren J. Mumper, who lives around the corner at 110 Center Street.

Both have been stationed at Parris Island, South Carolina. They left for Solvay at about the same time, both on two-week furlough.

They’re the only Solvay youths in the Marine Corps.

“I was getting out of my car in front of the house,” Tagliaferri said, “when I looked down the street and saw a Marine uniform.”

“I was walking home past Vic’s house when that corporal’s garb caught my eye,” Mumper explained.

Now they’re passing their furloughs together.

Although Tagliaferri is 25 and Mumper is 20, the two were childhood playmates. Both attended Boyd School and Solvay High School, where Tagliaferri starred in track in 1933 and 1934.

Tagliaferri’s brother, Floyd, is Gunner’s Mate Third Class Floyd Tagliaferri of the USS St. Louis.

By the end of the year the Marine Corps would include several other men from Solvay and the Town of Geddes.

Syracuse Herald-Journal, May 16

Lead item in “Skidding the Sport Field with Skid,” a column by sports editor Lawrence J. Skiddy:

“In the spotlight on the Pacific Coast over the weekend is Martha Smith, 19-year-old Solvay girl, who competes Sunday in the Western International Bowling Congress at Los Angeles.

“The Solvay girl, who began bowling at the age of nine, has a national ranking, with a prediction being made by several of the nation’s outstanding experts that eventually she will be the best woman bowler in the country.

“Last year, bowling in Syracuse, she was second high scorer in singles and did rather well in all events."

Laura Burke, a Solvay High senior, presided as the “Spirit of Liberty,” at the 21st annual June Festival at Woods Road Park. She was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Burke of 114 Summit Avenue. More than 1,000 pupils from the Solvay schools participated.

Norma Brown, daughter of Mrs. Patrick Lane, 1337 Milton Avenue, was named valedictorian of the June graduating class at Solvay High School. Salutatorian was Jean Crandon of 218 Parsons Drive.

John Olgeaty, a Solvay volunteer fireman was honoredOctober 28 by the Onondaga County Fireman’s Association, and presented with the Judge Frank P. Malpass medal for heroism. Olgeaty won the award, the first to be presented in more than 10 years, when he saved the life to Leo Corbett, 17, who fell into a bed of Solvay Process benzol waste material. Olgeaty crawled out over the waste bed’s thin crust and pulled the youth to safety.

Deaths

Miss Charlotte R. Brigham, 71, a retired teacher who taught music and drawing at the Solvay junior and senior high schools for 30 years, died February 8 at a convalescing home. She was born in Chicago and moved to Syracuse with her parents when she was a child.

Miss Helen Crahan was killed April 22 in an automobile accident in Hagerstown, Maryland. Miss Crahan was superintendent of music in the elementary schools of Washington County, Maryland. She was born in Syracuse in 1913, daughter of the late Martin and Katherine Esketh Crahan, and graduated from Solvay High School. She studied composition at Syracuse University, and received a master’s degree in music at the Juilliard School of Music and Columbia University.

Charles J. Farrell, 40, Solvay village treasurer and chief clerk of Draft Board 471, died July 16 at Crouse-Irving Hospital, Syracuse, after a brief illness. He and his wife, Mrs. Maria O'Hern Farrell, lived at 109 Lamont Avenue.

Matthew J. Fitzpatrick, salesman for Learbury Clothes, died of a heart condition October at his home, 306 Hall Avenue, Solvay, shortly after the arrival of his son, James M. Fitzpatrick, home on furlough after completing U. S. Navy training at Newport, Rhode Island.

Miss M. Alexine Grant, 66, retired high school teacher, died January 5 at her home, 722 Woods Road, Solvay, following a long illness. A native of Camden, Ontario, Miss Grant was a graduate of Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and taught home economics at Solvay High School from 1906 to 1910 before joining the faculty at Vocational High School in Syracuse. She switched to North High School in 1923 and retired in 1940.

C. Herbert Halcomb, 82, founder of the Halcomb Steel Company in Syracuse and former president of the Crucible Steel Company of America, died in Washington July 17 at the home of his son, C. Herbert Halcomb Jr.

John D. Kelly, 70, of 205 Orchard Road, justice of the peace in the Town of Geddes for 16 years, died December 1 in Crouse-Irving Hospital of injuries suffered November 6 in an automobile accident near Skaneateles. Four persons were injured. (One of them, James Farrell, 72, of 109 Lamont Avenue, a retired grocer, would die of his injuries on January 28, 1942. Farrell's son, Charles, died in July, 1941.)

Justice Kelly was a native of Memphis, New York, but lived in Solvay most of his life and had been active in Republican politics. His survivors included three daughters, Miss Olga D. Kelly and Mrs. Ralph Adsit of Solvay, and Mrs. Marguerite Sullivan of Detroit.

Dr. Charles V. O’Brien, 56, a Solvay native, died June 18 in Brooklyn, where he had moved to set up his medical practice, Dr. O’Brien was the son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Michael O’Brien, pioneer residents of the village. His brother was Michael O’Brien, former sheriff of Onondaga County. His son, Charles, and two sisters, Misses Margaret and Alice O’Brien, live on Boulder Road in Solvay.

Sports

Syracuse Herald-Journal, June 12
Solvay High athletes celebrated
Close to 200 athletes and fans gathered at Solvay High School last night to celebrate the finest athletic record any school has ever enjoyed in the Onondaga County League, paying tribute to championship teams in football, basketball and track.

Last fall Solvay's (1940) football team went through its second consecutive season without a defeat; its basketball team won the Western Division championship without a setback and went on to defeat East Syracuse in the finals by more than 30 points; the baseball team just finished winning the Western Division title, and the track team is the best in the county circuit.

Earl Hadley, director of athletics at Solvay, was lauded for his fine work by toastmaster Francis Tindall, one of the greatest athletes to ever graduate from Solvay.

Other speakers included Miss Hilda Swanson, who yesterday won her third consecutive Syracuse Women's District Golf Association title; Bob Cullen, football coach at Fayetteville High School; Lew Carr, baseball coach at Syracuse University, and Bob Lannon, assistant football coach at Syracuse University.

Solvay High's basketball team, coached for the first time by Al Talmadge, went undefeated in the Western Division of the Onondaga County League. Also in that division were Baldwinsville, Camillus, Elbridge, Jordan, Marcellus, Onondaga Central, Split Rock, Skaneateles and Warners.

The Eastern Division was comprised of eight high schools — East Syracuse, Fayetteville, Jamesville, Liverpool, Manlius, Minoa, North Syracuse and Tully. (Since then, of course, several of the schools in both division have been consolidated.)

Solvay High School’s archery team finished 14th (out of 49) June 8 at the sixth annual upstate New York girls’ archery tournament, won by Skaneateles High. Doris Mumpler of Solvay finished second in the clout shoot, an event in which archers attempt to land their arrows close to a flag pole from a distance of 140 yards.

I found scorzes of three hockey games — Solvay beat Baldwinsville and Skaneateles, and had a 1-1 tied with Fayetteville. Players mentioned were Renders, Kulak,, Kolceski and Mosher.

Solvay won the Western Division baseball title by beating Camillus, 6-1 on May 30, after overwhelming Warners, 12-0, in the first playoff game. However, East Syracuse, gaining revenge for their loss to Solvay in the basketball championship game, won the overall Onondaga County League baseball title by beating the Bearcats, 2-0, on June 14.

Pitcher Bobby Lindberg and catcher Jim Farrell were outstanding players for Solvay. Other last names of Solvay players in the Herald-Journal's box score for the East Syracuse game were (Jim) Rowe, ss; Gettino, 1b; Szczech, 2b; Batley, cf; O'Neil, lf; Pieklik, 3b, and Moran, rf.

On June 14, Solvay High School’s track team finished first in all but two of the nine events to win the Onondaga County League track meet at Griffin Field in Liverpool. Ralph Willoughby led the way, breaking a record in the running broad jump and winning the 100-yard dash. Solvay scored 55 points, which was 22 better than its nearest rival, Manlius High. Willoughby’s time in the 100-yard dash was 10.5 seconds, and his broad jump of 22 feet, one-half inch was seven inches longer than the previous record set by Solvay’s Jim Rowe in 1937.

Bob Himpler of Solvay was the meet’s only other double winner, tossing the shot 39 feet, 4-1/2 inches, and clearing 5 feet, 8 inches in the high jump. J. McGraw of Solvay won the mile in 4 minutes, 49 and 7/10 seconds. Other Solvay winners were Bethka in the 440-yard run and Sullivan in the 880-yard run.

Defending county football champion Solvay High was relegated to the role of spoiler as the team lost twice in league play. I found three games, a 6-0 loss to Fayetteville on October 16; a 7-6 win over previously undefeated Liverpool on October 24, and a scoreless tie with undefeated North Syracuse on October 31.

That's just seven points in those three games, all courtesy of the Brostek brothers, Frank, who scored the touchdown against Liverpool, and Bill, who kicked the extra point.

Bob Hemple, right tackle on defense, fullback on offense, was named to the Syracuse Herald-American's All County team. B. Glisson, left guard, and Bill Brostek, right end, were named to the second second team; Renders, Szczech and Farrell were given honorable mentions.

Solvay High's basketball team opened its 1941-42 with one of the most lop-sided wins in Onondaga County League, defeating outmanned Warners High, 66-7. Nine players scored for Solvay, paced by Joe Szczech's 15 points. A week later Solvay beat Jordan High, 41-19. The Szczech brothers, John and Joe, combined to score 24 points. Next Solvayt topped Split Rock, 28-24.

It would continue to be a very good season, spoiled only by one loss to — you guessed it, Camillus. For more ...

Henry Brostek named Catholic U. captain
Syracuse Herald-Journal, May 9

Catholic University’s 1941 football team will be led by Henry Brostek, a Solvay boy and halfback, following his election to the captaincy by his teammates of the “Flying Cardinals” in Washington, D.C.

He is the fourth Onondaga County boy to be honored with a sports captaincy at the university. Fullback Rocco Pirro of Solvay is a former football captain. Carmen Pirro of Solvay and Maurice Carroll of Baldwinsville were leaders in basketball at the university.

At the annual athletic banquet of the university, Carmen Pirro, tackle on the football team and captain of the 1939-40 basketball team, was awarded the Harris trophy, symbolic of the outstanding scholar, gentleman and athlete. It is the most coveted athletic award at Catholic University.

Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates* (Steelers) of the National Professional Football League, Rocco Pirro has received a contract, but is undecided about playing professional football. He indicated that he isn’t seriously considering playing.

Pirro, chosen to play with the Eastern College All-Stars, made up of seniors who graduate this year, has been ordered to report August 18 in New York City to assemble for a camp training session in preparation for a game with the New York Giants’ pro team early in September in New York.

* The team originated as the Pirates and remained that way through the 1930s. However, by 1940 the team changed its nickname to the Steelers, though some sportswriters continued to refer to them as the Pirates.

 
Most items are from stories in the Syracuse Journal and its Sunday edition,
the Herald-American. Several were edited for length.
 
For more on Solvay way back when, check ou
the Solvay-Geddes Historical Society
 
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